Fantasy Football Week 17 Rankings: Reviewing Fringe Flex Players and Advice

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2016

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper (89) runs against Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Ron Parker (38) and cornerback Marcus Peters during an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot/Associated Press

Fantasy football players have one last Sunday to set lineups before closing shop. Without another crack of getting things right next week, nobody wants to make a Week 17 mistake.

Those competing to the very end don't have to worry as much about resting implications. Beware of starting any Washington Redskins, who are buckled into the NFC's No. 4 seed. Everyone else, however, is fair game to normally use.

The flex position has befuddled many managers for 16 weeks, so don't expect an easier decision to end the season. Select players fluctuating from top option to dud prove the toughest ones to rank. Their ranking placement warrants a start in most leagues, but nobody will feel comfortable while hoping this is a game where everything goes right. 

Week 17 Flex Rankings
RankStandardPPR
1Devonta Freeman, RB, ATLAntonio Brown, WR, PIT
2Julio Jones, WR, ATLJulio Jones, WR, ATL
3Odell Beckham Jr., WR, NYGOdell Beckham Jr., WR, NYG
4DeAngelo Williams, RB, PITDevonta Freeman, RB, ATL
5Adrian Peterson, RB, MINDeAndre Hopkins, WR, HOU
6Antonio Brown, WR, PITBrandon Marshall, WR, NYJ
7DeAndre Hopkins, WR, HOUDeAngelo Williams, RB, PIT
8Doug Martin, RB, TBA.J. Green, WR, CIN
9David Johnson, RB, ARIAllen Robinson, WR, JAX
10Darren McFadden, RB, DALDavid Johnson, RB, ARI
11A.J. Green, WR, CINJarvis Landry, WR, MIA
12Brandon Marshall, WR, NYJAdrian Peterson, RB, MIN
13Rob Gronkowski, TE, NERob Gronkowski, TE, NE
14Allen Robinson, WR, JAXDemaryius Thomas, WR, DEN
15Tim Hightower, RB, NOCalvin Johnson, WR, DET
16Doug Baldwin, WR, SEABrandin Cooks, WR, NO
17Calvin Johnson, WR, DETDoug Baldwin, WR, SEA
18Charcandrick West, RB, KCJeremy Maclin, WR, KC
19Lamar Miller, RB, MIAEric Decker, WR, NYJ
20Eric Decker, WR, NYJDoug Martin, RB, TB
21Brandin Cooks, WR, NOJames White, RB, NE
22Latavius Murray, RB, OAKMike Evans, WR, TB
23Frank Gore, RB, INDJavorius Allen, RB, BAL
24Jarvis Landry, WR, MIATim Hightower, RB, NO
25Javorius Allen, RB, BALJordan Matthews, WR, PHI
26James White, RB, NEDarren McFadden, RB, DAL
27Demaryius Thomas, WR, DENGreg Olsen, TE, CAR
28Karlos Williams, RB, BUFEmmanuel Sanders, WR, DEN
29Jeremy Maclin, WR, KCLamar Miller, RB, MIA
30Mike Evans, WR, TBKamar Aiken, WR, BAL
31Sammy Watkins, WR, BUFSammy Watkins, WR, BUF
32Allen Hurns, WR, JAXLarry Fitzgerald, WR, ARI
33Eddie Lacy, RB, GBMichael Floyd, WR, ARI
34Denard Robinson, RB, JAXDelanie Walker, TE, TEN
35Emmanuel Sanders, WR, DENCharcandrick West, RB, KC
36Jordan Matthews, WR, PHIDanny Woodhead, RB, SD
37Matt Forte, RB, CHIAllen Hurns, WR, JAX
38Jeremy Langford, RB, CHIBilal Powell, RB, NYJ
39Michael Floyd, WR, ARILatavius Murray, RB, OAK
40Larry Fitzgerald, WR, ARIGolden Tate, WR, DET
41Jeremy Hill, RB, CINFrank Gore, RB, IND
42Greg Olsen, TE, CARMatt Forte, RB, CHI
43Martavis Bryant, WR, PITMichael Crabtree, WR, OAK
44Chris Ivory, RB, NYJMartavis Bryant, WR, PIT
45Rashad Jennings, RB, NYGAmari Cooper, WR, OAK
46Kamar Aiken, WR, BALGary Barnidge, TE, CLE
47Delanie Walker, TE, TENTravis Kelce, TE, KC
48Bilal Powell, RB, NYJJohn Brown, WR, ARI
49C.J. Anderson, RB, DENZach Ertz, TE, PHI
50Michael Crabtree, WR, OAKKarlos Williams, RB, BUF
Author's Rankings

C.J. Anderson, RB, Denver Broncos

Fred Vuich/Associated Press

C.J. Anderson has teased owners before. The Denver Broncos running back has twice eclipsed 100 rushing yards and found the end zone this season. He followed each outburst with eight uneventful touches, generating 38 yards one time and 54 the other. 

While the 2015 first-round fantasy pick didn't reach triple digits Monday night, he registered his fourth touchdown of a disappointing season. He split the carries evenly with Ronnie Hillman, but he tallied more yards on his 39-yard touchdown run than his backfield mate earned all night:

C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman vs. Bengals (Week 16)
PlayerRushRush YDYPCTDRecRec YD
Anderson9738.1118
Hillman9353.90437
ESPN.com

This isn't a new development from Denver's rushing tandem. Anderson is averaging 4.6 yards per rush, putting him right on par with last season's 4.7 average. Hillman lags far behind at 3.9.

As highlighted by Rotoworld's Raymond Summerlin, the production gap has grown even wider throughout the season:

In a post on DenverBroncos.com, Anderson admitted to playing at less than full strength earlier this season.

"It was also a positive that on Monday, I finally felt like I was getting back to getting healthy, which is a good thing," Anderson said. "At the start of the season, I was struggling getting healthy. It was tough. Your body isn’t your body when you’re injured."

Anderson ran far better than Hillman against the San Diego Chargers, but he received seven carries to Hillman's 19. If given a hearty workload against a defense relinquishing 4.7 yards per carry, Anderson would easily rank inside the top 20 rushers while making a case for top-10 consideration. Unfortunately, fantasy players can't assume NFL coaches will make the right moves.

Upside makes him an intriguing flex play, but limited opportunities also cover him in risk.

 

Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders

Ben Margot/Associated Press

Amari Cooper started his career with commendable consistency for a rookie. While he frequently hovered between 45-50 receiving yards per game, an uninspiring tally for a high-end wide receiver, the Oakland Raiders' first-round pick had at least established a steady floor.

He has since tore up the carpet and punched holes through the ground. Cooper has compiled 10 yards or fewer in three of his last six games. Yet he also sprinkled in reminders of his star upside, recording 115 yards against the Tennessee Titans and 120 yards and two scores two weeks ago versus the Green Bay Packers.

Per NFL.com, the Kansas City Chiefs have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts. They have also, however, yielded the third-fewest points over the last four weeks. Entering the final weekend, only the New York Jets defenses brandishes a lower completion percentage:

NFL Opposing Completion Percentages
RankTeamCMP %
1New York Jets56.7
2Kansas City Chiefs57.1
3Green Bay Packers58.5
4Buffalo Bills58.6
5Houston Texans59.3
6Arizona Cardinals59.3
ESPN.com

When Cooper faced Kansas City a month ago, he found middle ground by collecting four catches for 69 yards during a 34-20 loss. The Chiefs have surrendered 12.3 points per game through their nine-game winning streak, so the Raiders were fortunate to muster that much offense.

Despite recent no-shows, Cooper has corralled 70 catches for 1,050 yards this season, ranking as NFL.com's No. 20 wide receiver. His Week 17 stock takes a hit due to recent struggles and a difficult matchup, so treat him as a No. 3 wideout in standard and point-per-reception (PPR) leagues.

 

Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers

Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

A top-10 wide receiver entering the season, Randall Cobb ends it as a fringe flex play.

The Green Bay Packers' top wideout continues to crumble amid a floundering offense. He reached a nadir last weekend, registering 15 receiving yards on three targets.

Disgruntled owners can't blame the bad day on Patrick Peterson. According to ESPN.com's Mike Clay, the Arizona Cardinals cornerback only lined up against Cobb on 12 of 41 routes. Clay also noted Cobb's deteriorating results.

"After sitting fifth among wide receivers in fantasy points through Week 3, Cobb has finished a week better than 25th at the position only once, in Week 9," Clay wrote. "His average finish is 48.3, and he has been outside the top 30 in nine of 12 games in that span."

His last touchdown came on Nov. 22 against the Minnesota Vikings, whom he'll face again Sunday. Don't get too excited, as he recorded two catches for 24 yards that day. Also, five games without a touchdown isn't great for a guy who is averaging 52.8 receiving yards per game.

As a result, he didn't crack the top 50 on the standard or PPR front. He's not far behind, but he's an uninspiring flex play for someone who is paying for targets and brand value.